Jhayne: Foxtongue: Dreampepper: Date Created: 2003-06-24 16:26:58
Two years today.
June 23, 2005
The Defense Department began working yesterday with a private marketing firm to create a database of high school students ages 16 to 18 and all college students… The new database will include personal information including birth dates, Social Security numbers, e-mail addresses, grade-point averages, ethnicity and what subjects the students are studying. The data will be managed by BeNow Inc. of Wakefield, Mass., one of many marketing firms that use computers to analyze large amounts of data.
…”The purpose of the system . . . is to provide a single central facility within the Department of Defense to compile, process and distribute files of individuals who meet age and minimum school requirements for military service,” according to the official notice of the program.
…Under the new system, additional data will be collected from commercial data brokers, state drivers’ license records and other sources, including information already held by the military. “Using multiple sources allows the compilation of a more complete list of eligible candidates to join the military,” according to written statements provided by Pentagon spokeswoman Lt. Col. Ellen Krenke in response to questions.
…The Pentagon’s statements added that anyone can “opt out” of the system by providing detailed personal information that will be kept in a separate “suppression file.” That file will be matched with the full database regularly.
According to the Federal Register notice, the data will be open to “those who require the records in the performance of their official duties.” It said the data would be protected by passwords. The system also gives the Pentagon the right, without notifying citizens, to share the data for numerous uses outside the military, including with law enforcement, state tax authorities and Congress.
Work is a cool white room with a ticking clock. The light is pale, blocked by thick curtains that look like they were whitewashed by professionals going for some industrial chic. The bars on the windows are also white, as are the lighting fixtures. The floor is scuffed cement painted pale yellow and chilly in the summer heat. Along one wall are a short row of wooden supply shelves, papers and binder books filling every nook. I sit facing a computer in an L of desks put together in a corner of the foyer, with a phone to my right and a fax machine and copier behind me on a pink trestle table. It is pleasant, familiar through the conglomerated memory of a hundred offices. There is even a tall tropical plant in dubious health and a corkboard covered in pictures cut from magazines.
This morning I was upstairs sitting cross-legged on a chest high pile of foam sheets putting slips of information paper in with packaged silk duvets with my boss, Linda. She’s a lovely young woman, only 29, and engaged to be married. She’s incredibly well traveled, growing up first in China, then New York, then Madrid, and traveling every year. We talked about photography and where she used to live, education and thinking ahead. I’m young, but I think we get along. Now we’re eating ice-cream from the Casa Gelato across the street. It’s lunch-time, and I should find my sandwich.